A Discourse on Paticcasamuppada

by Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw | 62,614 words

The Paticcasamuppada refers to “The Doctrine of Dependent Origination”. This is the English translation done by U Aye Maung Published by U Min Swe Buddhasasana Nuggaha Organization Rangoon, Burma....

Chapter 6 - Parami And Kamma

(10) Faith in the Buddha, the Arahats or holy men who can claim transcendent knowledge about this and the other worlds and who possess a noble character that lends credence to their teachings - such faith also presupposes the belief in kamma, for the spiritual attainment of Arahats and the Buddha rests in part on their parami (perfection) which does not differ essentially from kamma. Development of parami is a kind of learning. Just as a child has to learn many things in order to become well educated, so also a bodhisatta has to seek knowledge and train himself for the attainment of his goal.

Some parents and elders take their children to movies and theatres while others take theirs to pagodas and monasteries. In this way the children acquire good or bad habits and develop a craving for sensual pleasure or a taste for the higher things of life. Good habits and good training may be called a kind of parami. Some children are spontaneously inclined to religious life, some men and women have immense zeal and energy for the practice of vipassana. Such a childs unusual interest in religion or a mans unusual love of spiritual life is born of the parami in a previous life.

Prince Siddhattha became the Buddha through the gradual development and perfection of parami such as dana, sila, nekkhama (renunciation) and so forth over aeons spanning innumerable lifetimes. It was not a matter of easy accomplishment in a single existence. It was this cumulative kammic potential or parami that helped to strengthen his will when he left his family and the luxuries of his royal palace in search of enlightenment. Today, some people speak of their disillusionment with life but it is hard for a man to renounce all his wealth and become a monk, let alone to think of the kind of renunciation that distinguished the bodhisatta.

The bodhisatta cultivated other paramis, too, for the sake of wisdom, at energy fortitude and so forth in way of his previous lives. As a result in his last existence he reflected and realized independently the nature of life, its dependent origination, etc. It was his kammic potential (parami) that finally led to his supreme enlightenment and likewise it was the parami that contributed to the spiritual attainments of Paccekabuddhas and Arahats. Hence, the belief in kamma makes it possible for the spiritual aspirant to become the arahat, Paccekabuddha or the Buddha and one who accepts the belief has no doubt about the transcendent knowledge of the Buddha and other holy men.

In short, ditthupadana is generally synonymous with rejection of the law of kamma. It was not widespread in the time of the Buddha or even about a hundred years ago but now it is gaining ground, thanks to the books that have criticized the doctrine of kamma in the name of scientific knowledge. As the scriptures say, false beliefs are usually rooted in craving and with mans increasing hunger for material goods, scepticism about kamma is likely to become dominant and it is up to good people to guard themselves against it.

Apart from the rejection of kamma, ditthupadana also means strong attachment to all false beliefs e.g. ego belief, annihilation belief, etc. The exceptions are the two false beliefs covered by silabbatupadana and attavadupadana.

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